The NBA has created a brand-new series of awards for postseason excellence in the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, the Larry Bird East Finals Most Valuable Player award fittingly in play for a member of the team that Hall of Fame legend played for across the entire span of seasons making up his storied career.
And though the future of the award and the fitting nature shaping up for at least one of those four new pieces of hardware on the current iteration of the Boston Celtics is sure to captivate the minds of many an NBA fan as we draw closer to the inaugural awarding of those trophies, some minds have looked to the past instead.
Who might have won the award in seasons past? FiveThirtyEight’s Mike Lynch recently penned an article trying to do exactly that.
“To award retroactive conference finals MVPs, I first needed to settle on a consistent metric,” explains Lynch.
“After some experimentation, John Hollinger’s Game Score seemed like the best fit in terms of matching voter intuition (by rewarding players who dominate the box score) and availability (it can be applied to any complete box score since player turnovers were first tracked in 1977 -78 and can still provide useful direction when some less essential statistics are missing). ”
Let’s take a look at which former Celtics would have won this particular piece of hardware had it existed, at least in Lynch’s estimation.
1958 – Bill Russell:
Cliff Hagan (16) of the St. Louis Hawks goes up for a shot in the first quarter of the game of the final playoffs for the NBA championship, April 2, 1958, St. Louis, Mo. He is guarded by Boston Celtics Bill Russell, left, and Tommy Heinsohn (15), right. (AP Photo)
1959 – Bill Russell:
Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics leaps into the air for a shot at the basket as Boo Ellis (12) of the Minneapolis Lakers keeps his eye on the ball in their NBA playoff game at Boston Garden on April 5, 1959. Guarding another Minneapolis player is Ben Swain of the Celtics. Boston won 128-108. (AP Photo)
1960 – Bill Russell:
Bill Russell (6) of the Boston Celtics lays up a shot as Clyde Lovelletts (34) of the St. Louis Hawks attempts to block the play in their National Basketball Assn. playoff game at Boston Garden on April 5, 1960. Watching the action is Gene Conley (17) of the Celtics. (AP Photo)
1961 – Bill Russell:
Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics jumps higher than the basket to recover a rebound against the Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia’s convention hall in Philadelphia in 1961. Detroit handed the Bostonians their first NBA loss of the season 116-110. Other players are George Lee (12) and Gene Shue (21) of the Pistons and Sam Jones of the Celtics. (AP Photo)
1964 – Bill Russell:
BOSTON, MA – 1964: Bill Russell # 6 of the Boston Celtics goes for a block against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1964 NBA Game at Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dick Raphael / NBAE / Getty Images)
1966 – Bill Russell:
Feb 1967; Unknown location, USA; FILE PHOTO; Boston Celtics center Bill Russell (6) in action against Cincinnati Royals center Connie Dierking (24) during the 1966-67 season. Mandatory Credit: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK:
1968 – John Havlicek:
Boston’s John Havlicek drives to the basket for two points against the Lakers in the final game of the NBA title playoff at Los Angeles May 3, 1968. Mel Counts, 7 feet tall, tries to stop him. Lakers’ Jerry West at left. Boston won, 124-109 to take the title, 4 games to 2. (AP Photo / HF)
1969 – Bill Russell:
Bill Russell, left, and Emmette Bryant show their excitement as the Boston Celtics run off the floor in Los Angeles, May 6, 1969, after winning the NBA championship title. They beat the Los Angeles Lakers for their 11th NBA title in 13 years. (AP Photo / HPM)
1974 – John Havlicek:
May 1974; USA; FILE PHOTO; Boston Celtics forward John Havlicek (17) attempts a shot during the 1974 season. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Network.
1976 – Dave Cowens:
Boston’s Dave Cowens goes for the basket as Curtis Perry of Phoenix falls backward in third period NBA championship action on May 23, 1976 at Boston Garden. The Celtics beat the Suns, 98-87. (AP Photo)
1981 – Larry Bird:
Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird, right, passes off after driving the baseline on Indiana Pacers forward Mike Bantom, left, during first-period action of their NBA game in Indianapolis, March 6, 1981. (AP Photo / AB)
1984 – Larry Bird:
Boston Celtics Larry Bird hangs on the rim and reacts as he slams the ball through the hoop Tuesday, June 12, 1984 in Boston. (AP Photo)
1985 – Kevin McHale:
Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics looks at the right to shoot past Moses Malone of the Philadelphia 76ers during first quarter action on May 14, 1985, in the Boston Garden in NBA Playoff competition. (AP Photo / Charlie Krupa)
1986 – Larry Bird:
BOSTON – 1986: Larry Bird # 33 of the Boston Celtics rebounds against Chuck Person # 45 of the Indiana Pacers during a game played in 1986 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dick Raphael / NBAE via Getty Images)
1987 – Larry Bird:
Bill Laimbeer (40) of the Detroit Pistons, left, misses the ball but grabs the net as he loses a rebound to Larry Bird (33) of the Boston Celtics in the first period of their NBA playoff game at Boston Garden in Boston, Mass. ., May 20, 1987. Boston won the first game of the best-of-seven series, 104-91. (AP Photo / Peter Southwick)
2008 – Kevin Garnett:
Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett gestures to the crowd just before tipoff of Game 1 of an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Boston, Tuesday, May 6, 2008. (AP Photo / Winslow Townson)
2010 – Paul Pierce:
After he fouled out, Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce celebrates as he jumps out of his seat watching Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter miss two free throws in the closing moments in Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball finals in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, May 18, 2010. Boston won 95-92. (AP Photo / John Raoux)
This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!
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